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Palestinian foreign ministry slams Israeli plan to seize land near Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil

A general view shows the Ibrahimi Mosque in the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil on April 3, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates has strongly condemned the Israeli regime’s plan to seize Palestinian land in the area of the Ibrahimi Mosque in the southern occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil.

The ministry, in a statement released on Monday, announced that the Israeli regime has exploited preoccupation with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus to advance its expropriation plan.

The statement noted that Palestine will take the recent decision along with other settlement plans to the International Criminal Court, as the move amounts to a criminal act.  

On Sunday, Israel's minister for military affairs, Naftali Bennett, gave the final green light to expropriate Palestinian-owned land and property in the old city of al-Khalil, situated 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of Jerusalem al-Quds, to construct an elevator and a ramp to facilitate the entry of Jewish settlers to the Ibrahimi Mosque.

According to Israeli media outlets, the so-called Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration – the Israeli body that handles agricultural and building permits, roads, water and electricity issues in the West Bank – was  ordered to complete all relevant procedures immediately and without delay once judicial authorities, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Israel Katz approved the plan.

Back on April 21, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hanan Ashrawi, slammed the Israeli decision as a “provocative and irresponsible action that will stoke religious sensitivities.”

“It is a cynical exploitation of the world’s focus on combating the COVID-19 pandemic and a reflection of Israel’s willful determination to speedily execute its aggressive plans to the service and benefit of the colonial settlement regime that is devouring Palestine,” Ashrawi said in a statement at the time.

The Palestinian land near the Ibrahimi Mosque will be seized from the Palestinian Islamic Waqf, which is a trust in charge of religious endowments.

In 2017, UNESCO recognized the Ibrahimi Mosque as an endangered Palestinian heritage site.

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